A sonata for violin and piano by American composer Vincent Persichetti (1915–87) is to have its world premiere this September.

The 1941 work was discovered by University of Utah violin professor Hasse Borup in the archives of the New York Public Library (NYPL) in 2010. The handwritten score was covered in scribbled annotations, and a composition student at the university, Dexter Drysdale, spent nearly two semesters preparing a critical edition for the premiere.  

Borup and pianist Heather Conner will give the sonata its first performance on 30 September, at the University of Utah's Libby Gardner Concert Hall. The premiere is part of a project to record Persichetti's complete works for violin and piano for Naxos.

The sonata is a twelve-tone work from a period in which Persichetti's music still showed the influence of Stravinsky, Bartók and Copland. It was not until the 1950s that he found his own distinctive voice. A prodigious composer, he wrote four string quartets, nine symphonies and a large number of piano works, as well as music for wind band and vocal ensembles.

Borup said: 'Persichetti’s music was well regarded and widely performed by his contemporaries, but a surprising number of his works remain unrecorded.' He added: 'It is extremely unusual – perhaps as rare as a total solar eclipse – to find a piece of music that has never been played. And it is particularly gratifying for a performer to be able to play something altogether new.'